On Monday, United States Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that federal officials, including authorities in the FBI, would soon meet with leaders in school districts across the country to address “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” against educators and school board members.
A number of violent incidents toward school personnel have been documented over the past several weeks, mostly perpetrated by parents with conservative viewpoints who oppose measures like mask mandates and the purported teaching of critical race theory in classrooms. These occurrences have become so widespread that they were even parodied in a sketch on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” this past weekend.
“Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values,” Garland said in a memo detailing his order. “Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety.”
Garland added that the Department of Justice would be announcing additional measures in the near future to “address the rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel.”
Garland’s order comes after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent a letter last week to President Joe Biden requesting help addressing violence against school officials. Describing the situation as an “immediate threat,” the organization noted that some parents are acting out over perceived changes that aren’t even happening.
“Coupled with attacks against school board members and educators for approving policies for masks to protect the health and safety of students and school employees, many public school officials are also facing physical threats because of propaganda purporting the false inclusion of critical race theory within classroom instruction and curricula,” the NSBA letter read.
“This propaganda continues despite the fact that critical race theory is not taught in public schools and remains a complex law school and graduate school subject well beyond the scope of a K-12 class,” the letter continued.
As the threats are becoming more prevalent, the organization explained, the “NSBA respectfully asks that a joint collaboration among federal law enforcement agencies, state and local law enforcement, and with public school officials be undertaken to focus on these threats.”
These threats have occurred in a number of places across the U.S. In Austin, Texas, for example, a parent upset with masking rules being implemented in his child’s school physically assaulted a teacher that attempted to have his child adhere to the policy. Late last month, a school board meeting in Carver County, Minnesota also turned violent when unmasked parents started a fight after a member of the community spoke favorably of the school district’s decision to keep masking rules in place.